Friday, October 31, 2014

A lovely morning walk

Beaver Lake in mid-morning
There's a human-created lake (Beaver Lake) in North Asheville that's truly magical. 

It's a neighborhood lake, supported by the surrounding community, with the only "fee" being for boaters and dog-walkers.

I admit that we've been scofflaws, bringing Woody for walks without the annual permit for dogs (but always picking up after him, when needed!)  

But we'll be happy to contribute to their permit program when we're up here full-time.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fall colors

I'm grateful to have two wonderful places to enjoy fall color and inspiring views.

The views from the windows in our small mountain house are glorious right now - at their peak.
Black gum from studio window
kitchen window view
view from the deck

view from my small studio
The views from the windows in our older house are enchanting, too, created by enveloping plantings of natives, punctuated by a few special non-natives. Here's one from the front.  And a view from our bedroom of a wonderful gingko that we planted, that's gotten quite large.

We have a gingko in the mountains, too, that's just started to turn to yellow.  

Transitions are always lovely, with bittersweet overtones.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A long fall season

This is a magical time of the year. In the Southeastern U.S., we have wonderful fall colors, spread out over many weeks.

In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and in the Southern Appalachians, where I live, it is a time of both senescence and renewal.

Yes, the leaves are turning color and dropping, but it's also a time for reinvention, as we move towards the quiet time of winter.

A post about a full moon, a number of years ago, has reminded me of its magic.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

More monarchs

A warm afternoon yesterday saw more monarchs nectaring on the big Buddleia, as they were heading south.

These must be some of the last stragglers (I hope). By the weekend, temperatures look to be seasonally cold, and probably the first frost/freeze -- depending on the the lows.

The first monarchs are expected in Mexico any day now.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Waterfall magic

My gardening companion just received layouts for his upcoming book about waterfalls and wildflowers.  Woo-hoo- I'm so excited and proud for him (it takes DISCIPLINE and hard work and a lot of time to write books;  many, many hours over days, nights, and weekends, with lots and lots of work, but it's magic to see the manuscript and photos transformed into something wonderful!) 

UNC Press is doing a lovely job, again.

Since I'm the first editor and photo manager, I'm sharing the excitement, too!

Here's a photo from last weekend's excursion -- with a created waterfall.

Bass Pond waterfall
An addition to a waterfall talk!

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

More fall views

A morning hike in the mountains of Western North Carolina:

view beyond the field

distant view

reflections on Bass Pond

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Biltmore walled garden

view from terrace
Last Sunday's visit to Biltmore included a visit to the walled garden, as well as a walk up to see the far vista from the terrace.

the creativity with grasses, mums, and Mexican bush sage were nice, and way beyond the usual
the mums were the stars, but the interesting twists with grasses were clever

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall light

This is the first full week of clear, crisp sky we've had so far this fall.  The characteristically soft, hazy light of spring and summer blew away, leaving behind dramatically blue skies.

We don't see this kind of blue very often in the southeastern U.S.  Today's walk felt different, almost like I was in an unfamiliar place, even though it was one of my usual routes.

Bass Pond, Biltmore Estate
Yesterday's walk around Bass Pond found the sky reflected in the pond;  I was amazed to see that the camera managed to capture the reflection so clearly.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

An amazing mushroom

I've never seen a mushroom that looked like this before (nor had my gardening companion).

Its markings echo long-ago learnings about selective pressure around moths, and industrial Britain. (They became darker as coal ash polluted the air over a century ago).

Nevertheless, this was an extraordinary-looking mushroom, seen on a outing this morning to Biltmore  -- in the Winter Garden.

mushroom near Japanese maple

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tapping into the creative side of gardening

I've been thinking about this topic for a while:  this post a couple of years ago reflected on some of my thoughts then.

I totally rediscovered my creative side through gardening and thinking about designing with plants, in general.

Writing about my nature and gardening observations has been a wonderful creative outlet, I've realized, too, for the past seven years.  And through many posts. Teaching classes about gardening, too, has focused my attention back to creativity as well.

What do YOU really want in your garden?  It's all individual.  We all have different tastes, color preferences, plant memories, etc.

An artist friend of mine said "creativity" was a word that would scare folks away from a workshop or class;  she was right.

I've not managed to have a workshop or class make (around gardening and creativity) until this fall, now with the "Tapping into the Creative Side of Gardening" title).

It's puzzling to me, as so many gardeners are truly creative, but perhaps don't recognize it as such?

Artists who are also gardeners frequently create extraordinarily unusual gardens.  I was reviewing images this afternoon from some that I've seen (on Garden Bloggers Flings) -- amazing gardens!

Here are some images from Kayla Meadow's garden in the East Bay (Berkeley), CA, from 2012, visited during the SF Fling.

tiles, lilies etc.

a colorful combination
out a side door
a wonderful tiled area
my clogs matched the tiles
inside her house

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Still more monarchs

one of many monarchs nectaring on the large Buddleia
The flow of monarchs continues;  the abundant Buddleia flowers are actively being visited, with the nectar resources shared with Painted Ladies, skippers and other butterflies, and bees of all sorts!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Monarchs, in abundance!

I wish I'd managed a photo today, but our one butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.) was covered in nectaring monarchs all afternoon, along with a few painted ladies and frittilaries.

There were at least 25 monarchs visiting, at about 4 pm, when I went out to check with my gardening companion (and assistant, too).  Marvelous.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014


We often walk through downtown after dinner, when we're in the mountains. 

We enjoy seeing the scene -- tourists, locals, street musicians, and restaurants full of folks.  Our dog Woody likes the walk, too.

Asheville has been a destination for visitors throughout its history, from its heyday in the early 20th century, to its resurgence over the last three decades.

There are many "travelers" of all ages who pass through, too, as well as people that are really at the end of their resources, too. Fortunately, Asheville has bed and soup kitchen capacity for most all of them, unlike many southern cities.

This evening, we walked past a fellow on a bench near Pack Square (clearly 'down on his luck') who noticed Woody.  Woody's a rescue Golden, so is sometimes a bit timid, but he responded right away to this fellow.

It was magical to see how the man on the bench responded.  It clearly brought back memories of dogs that he had loved in his past.  It brought tears for me, too.

It reminded me of another moment, some years ago, watching a homeless woman, waiting for a meal, transplanting weeds.

These experiences are magical for all of us.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thank you, garden clubs!

In an odd twist, my garden club group in the mountains is co-hosting our District meeting (it cycles around the member clubs) tomorrow.

I never thought I'd be a member of a federated club, but was recruited by someone who's become a good friend, and who was one of the founding members of what is a wonderfully eclectic group of folks -- young, old, and everything in between.

We meet at different times and days each month, unlike traditional clubs. This helps mix things up and also includes many folks who work during the day, too.

I've TOTALLY appreciated the contributions of garden club work and my associations with garden club folks for the 3+ decades that I was a botanical garden staff member.

They do good things, and have done so for many decades. 

So, thanks, garden club members!